Beanstalk

What's right with Colorado is right next door.

The GrowHaus

The Community Garden of Tomorrow

How the GrowHaus’ "triple-bottom-line" model of people, planet and profit may only be the beginning

The GrowHaus is a 20,000 square-foot greenhouse and community center in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood that hosts countless programs including: The Hydrofarm, a huge year-round hydroponics facility that produces thousands of heads of leafy greens per month; Seed to Seed, an 8-week summer leadership program for teens; Adult education classes for neighborhood residents centered around community organizing, gardening, cooking, and nutrition; Annual 12-day Permaculture Design Course; and Service Learning workshops for school groups that benefit over 800 students per year. The base of it all for The GrowHaus is that “everyone deserves a healthy meal,” and they do the growing, sharing and educating to prove it. The GrowHaus teaches social justice and conflict resolution. The goal is to break down the barriers of race, class and culture to make society sustainable, too.

Repair the World

Adam Brock helps bring sustainability, permaculture and passion to local food

Adam Brock’s favorite quote? "Never mistake a clear view for a short distance" as stated by futurist Paul Saffo. Adam’s superpower of choice? The ability to communicate with every species. Plants. Check. Birds. Check. Whales. Hell yes. Lions. Tigers. Bears. Yes. Yes. YES. Adam Brock would talk to everyone and everything. More importantly, he’d listen. When Adam says communicate he really means listen. Adam Brock has traveled the world to learn about sustainability, permaculture and methods by which to ensure the well-being of all life. He has trained alongside the greats. He has dedicated his life to a noble cause. In short, he’s an ecological samurai.

About the Honor

The samurai followed an honor code called Bushido. Roughly translated, it means “way of the warrior,” which is the common understanding, but it can be broken down further to mean  the way of one who has learned to keep the peace with or without weapons. See, Bushido is about knowledge, justice, peace, and ethic. Adam Brock has, in his short life, fought for social justice, taught students to embrace their own insights, and formed partnerships for food justice.

For now, Samurai Adam Brock draws his sword for the cause of food justice. He’s the co-founder of The GrowHaus, a non-profit indoor farm and education center. He currently serves as its Director of Operations, overseeing educational programming, community outreach, and strategic partnerships. He also collaborates with numerous sustainability- and social justice-oriented groups across the Front Range, and is a member of Denver's Sustainable Food Policy Council, not that we’re counting.

Passing Knowledge

Through The GrowHaus, Adam works with families in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood to help them take their diets into their own hands. The goal is to pass on the knowledge he and his fellow “samurai” possess. It’s a partnership, and a sort of modern day Bushido for the urban set. Often, Adam’s greatest strength is knowing how to connect his community, simply facilitating its potential. He told us, “I often find that my niche in a group is in being able to see connections between people, ideas, and objects, and understand how to bring them together to be a cohesive whole.”

Through all of his training, all of his gathering of skill, Adam Brock remains humble, community-focused and honorable. In 2011, he told The Huffington Post, “What I really see here is a hub for community development, a place where we support and inspire the neighborhood.” Support. Inspire. These ideas are powerful weapons, and luckily Adam Brock wields them well.

The Green Anthropologist

Coby Gould infuses the human element in every leaf of kale and sprouting radish

I don’t know about you, but I never really thought about food. I thought about being hungry, and I thought about eating to stave off that feeling. As a child I would stand in front of the pantry looking for a snack, waiting for my mom to show up and say, “If you don’t see anything there you like, then you can’t be that hungry.” It was her retort to my youthful exclusion of veggies and fruit from the snack-dictionary. Food was any collection of edible objects that tasted good and filled my stomach. There wasn’t much more to it for me.

 

Enter GrowHaus Executive Director, and Green Anthropologist Coby Gould. He’ll tell you that you can’t spell agriculture without culture, and he doesn’t just mean it to be clever. For Coby, the way we grow our food, the way we process and prepare our food, and the way we eat our food are integral to how we define ourselves. Food means far, far more to human beings than simple sustenance. Consider the classical vision of the “American Family,” perhaps as captured by Norman Rockwell. It’s a smiling group around a table with an assortment of shared food. Dinner was big in my house, it was the meal we always took together as a family. Rockwell never painted a family on the couch, gorging on cheese-flavored corn chips in front of the television... but that’s a bit of our culture too.

 

Cultivating Culture

That’s part of the culture Coby aims to repair. Through education, health, community and finding the best ways to infuse good food and good living into the cultures around the GrowHaus, he’s working to ensure that the food culture that has for so long united people to talk, share, love, and eat together never dies. In the process, he’s making strides to make people healthier too because, it turns out, that the quality of fuel you put into your body actually does affect how well it performs. It even affects individual happiness.

 

Coby thinks about food differently. He wants each of us to think about it too. It’s philosophy. It’s humanity. It’s all of us. And Coby teaches us that we have direct control over it. We’re the culture in agriculture. We can pick our poisons, so to speak. And he’s leading the charge, alongside Adam Brock, to preserve the society of food we need and deserve. By putting food back in our hands, working to free us from the systems that hold control of our food, the way we eat it, and the way we understand it, he’s one damn heroic Anthropologist. And never an apologist.